Does this body make me look fat?

So here’s a fun story: my workday yesterday was capped off with a reception for the department I work in.  Generally, these things are pretty cordial events, everyone’s happy to be celebrating the end of the school year, etc.  We always serve wine, and most people know how to consume in moderation (which, generally, is what you do when you’re at a function that is work-related).  This, of course, excludes one colleague who is so well-known for getting absolutely sloshed at these receptions that it’s a wonder no one has arranged for an intervention.

That’s the first part of the back story.  Here is the second part: Generally speaking, I don’t talk much about my running or my athletic endeavors with people.  The major exception, of course, is this blog (which I started in part because I wanted to be connected to a community of people who understood what I was doing and would be able to share their stories as well), and family members and close friends.  One of the reasons I don’t like talking about being a runner is because I’m always afraid someone is going to say, “You?  Aren’t you a little fat to be a runner?”  Or something to that effect.  Something that essentially translates to that.  There are endless variations.  Maybe it’s an irrational fear.  But why put myself in a position where it could happen?  I’d rather just avoid talking about myself.  Since most of what I do involves running or training in some form, I tend to stay quiet in a lot of party-type conversations.

I was talking to a coworker last night when drunky wandered over.  I’d say he was well-sauced at this point, but not entirely past the point of conviviality.  And he was certainly still coherent.  He complained about something to my coworker (I sort of tuned it out) and then asked us both if we’d like a drink.  I’d just had a can of seltzer water, said, “No, thanks, I just had something”, and was happy to leave it at that.  He then says, “Oh, you don’t drink?”  Because obviously, if you decline a drink from someone, you’re a teetotaller.  There’s no gray area.  My coworker (who, in her defense, was trying to get him to leave me alone) said, “Oh, no, she doesn’t drink, she’s an athlete.”  He raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh?  What do you do, exactly?”  As we had already entered territory that I didn’t want to be in, I tried to sort of shrug it off.  But since drunks have no sense of how to read social cues (mine at that point were all adding up to, ‘fuck off, asshole’), he pressed the issue.  Finally I conceded, and said, “I’m a runner.  I run.”  I regretted it the instant I said it, because I knew where the conversation was going.  “You run?”  he repeated.  “So how come you…How come you’re…you’re not…?” he sort of stammered, and I knew what he was trying to say.  Even in his alcohol-induced stupor he had the sense to try to be tactful.  And we all know that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, and all.  But just because it lowers your inhibitions doesn’t mean it makes you tell lies or say things you don’t mean.  Really, what it does is give you the courage to say the things you wouldn’t say otherwise, because your social graces prevent you from doing so.  He managed to finish his sentence, “How come you’re not skinny?”  And even though I hate it when people do this (for a variety of reasons: for one, it’s just annoying and rude to your interlocutor, for another, it shows how bothered you are with what’s just been said to you), I fired back with, “So you’re saying I’m fat?”  Because essentially, that’s what you’re saying to someone when you ask them why they don’t look like a runner.  He was unable to dig himself out of that hole and sort of wandered off, which just made me feel worse, because I kind of feel like if he hadn’t meant it that way, he would have been able to explain what he actually meant.

It doesn’t help, of course, that I stepped on the scale this morning and the number on it indicated that I had gained back the three pounds I’d thought I’d lost.  I’m guessing this is just because of water retention due to sodium (crackers and cheese=reception food), but it just sort of adds insult to injury when you’re already feeling pretty crappy about your body.



  1. Sorry that had to happen to you! And yes, it is the sodium, you can count on that. Now, here’s my 2-cents worth. I recently told a man who had stopped in my office and was flirting with me that I was running in a 5K for New Year’s Eve (he had asked me what I was doing for New Year’s Eve, expecting to hear tales of debauched parties that I would probably be attending). He looked at me quizzically and with a touch of disappointment in his voice asked me, “Why do you want to do that? You run?” He asked the “you run” part in a discernible tone of disbelief. Maybe people feel threatened when you tell them that you run, I don’t know! But whatever happened to good manners? Why can’t people pretend to just be interested when you tell them stuff that you do (especially since they asked in the first place). I was always raised to be or act interested in what other people were saying. Don’t know what happened to that!

  2. I have been teased about my working out before. Usually with weight training. No matter how much weights I do, I never seem to get big muscles. So if somebody says “did you run today” and I reply with no, but I did some weight training, i get that same look you are talking about. I hate it and I prefer not to talk about it. And I never call it weight lifting because if you are “lifting” you should be HUGE. Dumb, right?

    Just this week I was talking to a guy that rarely runs. He asked me my time for my 5K last weekend. I told him and he said “wow, that is really slow. For the next 5 minutes he preceded to tell me how slow that was. Made me feel pretty low.

    I wonder if these people do it because they are jealous of our dedication? I choose to believe that’s the answer.

  3. I agree with Chris . . . I think this dude feels guilty somewhere deep inside about his disgusting behavior and feels a bit defensive when in the presence of someone who dedicates herself to healthy endeavors like you do. I am totally the same way, though–always worried about people giving me the look and asking, “You run?!” But I have a prepared answer after having heard it a few too many times. It goes something like this, “hmm . . . well if you consider regularly running marathons ‘running’, well then yes, I suppose I AM a runner.” Works every time 😉

  4. Obviously I don’t know the guy and wasn’t there, but from an outsider’s perspective, I feel really confident in saying that no one would think, “She runs? But she’s not skinny enough to run!” First of all, you are definitely thin– I wouldn’t consider anyone in our family “skinny” except mom, but that’s just our body types and we’re not meant to be “skinny”. Secondly, you are also fit looking. So, that being said, that guy could have said a million things, and “How come you’re not skinnier?” is probably on the bottom of that list. I know I could be wrong, but it’s just not believable to me that someone would say that, even when highly intoxicated– not only because it’s rude, but also because no one would look at you and think that. I mean, really, Emilie, you are not fat, period.

    I could go on, but that’s the gist of what I have to say about it, and we can talk about it more in person if you’re interested.

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